US P&C Insurer Results Rebound with Strong Q1 Results

The U.S. P&C insurance industry rebounds with strong Q1 results, driven by premium gains and easing claims inflation, according to Swiss Re Institute.
By: | June 25, 2024

The U.S. property and casualty (P&C) insurance sector has seen its best first-quarter underwriting result in over 15 years, driven by strong premium gains, reduced claims cost inflation, and higher investment yields, indicating a positive shift in the industry’s trajectory, Swiss Re Institute reports.

However, potential risks like social inflation and persistent inflation could negatively impact the industry’s return on equity (ROE), according to the report. ROE for U.S. P&C insurers is forecast to reach 9.5% in 2024 and 10.0% in 2025, a significant increase from 3.4% in 2023. First-quarter 2024 results already show promise, with ROE near 14%, the report says.

Personal lines are expected to drive growth, while commercial lines slow down. In the first quarter of 2024, personal lines premiums grew by an impressive 15%, while commercial lines saw a more modest 5% growth. P&C direct premiums written (DPW) growth is forecast at 8.0% for 2024 and 5.0% in 2025, Swiss Re said.

However, there are potential risks, despite the optimistic outlook. Social inflation could weaken reserve development, an economic downturn might impact premium growth, and persistent inflation could put further pressure on claims costs, the report states. These factors have the potential to negatively affect industry ROE.

Underwriting Results and Trends

The U.S. P&C insurance industry is expected to see a significant improvement in its net combined ratio, with forecasts of 98.5% for both 2024 and 2025, compared to 102% in 2023. The first quarter of 2024 already showed promising results, with a combined ratio of 94%, an 8 percentage point improvement year-over-year. As the average U.S. Consumer Price Index inflation declines to a projected 3.1% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025, the underlying results are expected to improve further, the report said.

Personal lines are the key positive driver of this improvement, with the loss ratio gap between personal and commercial lines narrowing. Homeowners’ insurance, in particular, saw a 15 percentage point improvement in its loss ratio during the first quarter of 2024 as premiums catch up with higher replacement costs. Personal auto margins are also benefiting from disinflation in used car prices and repair costs normalizing, according to the report.

On the other hand, commercial lines may face potential margin pressures after a period of favorable underwriting experience. Fire & Allied premium growth slowed to just 4% year over year in the first quarter – after posting 14% growth in 4Q 2023 – the slowest growth rate in over five years, Swiss Re said. Premiums for Other Liability Claims-Made policies – a statutory line that includes E&O, D&O, and Cyber Liability – shrank for the seventh consecutive quarter, declining 3% in the first quarter, the report said.

Commercial auto liability and Other Liability-Occurrence both saw 12% increases in DPW in the first quarter.

As for personal auto insurance, the market is rushing back to competition as carriers reach rate adequacy. Price gains are decelerating, and insurers are doubling their ad spend to pursue growth, Swiss Re found.

Investment Income Outlook

Investment yields in the U.S. P&C insurance industry are expected to rise to 3.7% in 2024 and 4.1% in 2025, driven primarily by recurring investment income. The first quarter of 2024 already showed promising results, with net investment income of $19 billion, a 36% increase compared to the same period in 2023. When adjusting for affiliated transactions, the increase was still a substantial 20%,the report said.

The positive trend is expected to continue as reinvestment yields remain above average yields on maturing securities. Headline yields of 4.0% in Q1 2024, or 3.5% when adjusted, reflect the benefits of higher interest rates across maturities. Looking ahead to 2025, investment results are likely to receive an additional tailwind from higher realized capital gains.

To view the full report visit the Swiss Re website. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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